The pancreas is an organ that is behind your stomach. It is made up of groups of cells called islets. Islet cells make the right amount of insulin to keep your blood glucose (sugar) levels under control. If you have diabetes, these cells don’t make the right amount of insulin or any insulin at all.
An islet transplant removes islet cells from the pancreas of a person who has died, called a deceased donor. These cells are then mixed with a blood product and put into the liver of another person, called the recipient. The islet cells find a new home in the liver, form new blood vessels, and begin to make the amount of insulin the body needs.
The goal of an islet transplant is to have better control of your blood glucose levels and lower the chance of health problems related to diabetes.
In most cases, you may need more than one transplant.
An islet transplant can help improve your quality of life. Your transplant team will guide you along the way.
No. An islet transplant is not a cure for diabetes. While there may be periods of time when you do not need to take insulin, having an islet transplant does not guarantee this.
If you do need to take insulin after the procedure, the transplant can help control your blood glucose levels and prevent them from getting too low.
Islet transplants benefit some people living with diabetes; however, they are not suitable for everyone. Islet transplants are offered to patients when all other ways to manage blood glucose have not worked.
You will benefit most from an islet transplant if you:
An islet transplant is not for everyone. You may
not be able to have an islet transplant if you:
The Islet Transplant Program in Edmonton provides islet transplants to eligible patients living with diabetes in Alberta.
If you live in another province, you can also apply for an islet transplant. If your referral is accepted by the program, you will need to get funding from the health authority in your province to proceed.
Current as of: January 20, 2022
Author: Transplant Services, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.